Digital technology is evolving so quickly, it can be difficult to keep up. Even as a young mum, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the fast-paced changes and the speed that kids lap it all up!
A recent study* in conjunction with Post Office Broadband found that 1 in 5 people feel left behind by the digital revolution and three quarters would like support to improve their digital technology skills.
But as parents, even if we find the technology confusing, it’s our job to guide our children, preparing them for adulthood. In the western world, that includes training them in digital technology and social media practises. They need to know how to use them competently and beneficially, as well being aware of the pitfalls.
*Study conducted in May 2018 by Opinium Research
11 digital technology tips to use in your home
Keep screen time public
Encourage your children to use their digital technology in a public area of the house. This means you can see what they are watching and who they are interacting with.
Set limits and stick to them
Digital technology can be very useful but it can also overtake everything else. It’s important to set boundaries and stick to them. This could be things like limiting screen time, setting a shut-down time at night, and writing an “approved list” of online content or apps.
Be an example
Whatever rules you create for your kids, make sure you stick to them too. For example, if you have a “no phones at the table” rule, then make sure you don’t eat your dinner and scroll your phone at the same time.
Ideally, start setting boundaries for yourself before your child even has digital devices of their own – if they grow up seeing their parents permanently glued to their phones, they will learn that this is acceptable.
Take an interest
As our children grow, we have to allow them more independence and responsibility. But work hard to keep the lines of communication open. Be interested in them and chat about what they’re doing (online and in the real world). Being a helicopter parent is likely to drive them to keep secrets, but checking up on them every so often in a friendly way is good practice.
Make sure you know what games they’re playing and who they’re chatting with.
Do your homework
There are lots of resources out there to help parents navigate their way through raising children in the digital age. Websites like Common Sense Media offer free, impartial advice about computer games, films, and music so you can be informed about how appropriate it is for yourchild.
The Post Office have teamed up with Google to offer another option – free drop-in sessions covering a wide range of digital technology issues to chat about these issues face-to-face (further details below).
Supervise young children
Young children need to be supervised using digital technology – they may accidentally make an in-app purchase in their game, or click on a YouTube clip that isn’t age-appropriate.
Talk regularly about internet safety
Talk to children regularly (every few months) about internet safety. As they start to use the internet independently, discuss things like not talking to strangers and keeping personal information off the web. Also make sure they understand about the possibility of software viruses being sent via links in emails or within downloads from websites.
Use network-level filters
Network-level filters block access to adult and illegal content for any devices using the broadband internet service in your home. This means you are protecting your child whichever device they choose to access the internet.
Discuss stealth methods for collecting personal data
Many people share personal data about themselves without even realising it. Memes (shareable pictures) that “generate” a unicorn name or superhero name are very popular at the moment but participants are inadvertently sharing personal information about themselves.
For example, if someone shared this meme, saying their fairy tale name was “Charming Esteban”, I would instantly know that their birthday is 14th September.
Similarly, answering quizzes about seemingly unimportant topics (e.g. which Disney princess are you?) can reveal a lot of information such as favourite shops, age, political affiliations, dress size, etc.
Children need to be aware sharing a photo of themselves in their school uniform on Instagram or RSVP-ing to a Facebook event invite tells everybody where they will be at certain times on certain days.
Be aware of age limits
Did you know there are age limits for social media sites? These are the minimum ages for some of the most common social media networks:
- Twitter – 13yrs
- Instagram – 13yrs
- LinkedIn – 14yrs
- Tinder – 18yrs
- Facebook – 13yrs
- Snapchat – 13yrs
- WhatsApp – 16yrs
- YouTube – 18yrs
It’s worth knowing too, that although your teen may moan that “everyone” is on social media, a recent study by Ofcom found that 1 in 4 children aged 12-15yrs have no social media profile.
Tech is moving so quickly, and we’re all learning. Our kids are the first generation growing up with this latest phase of digital technology, and we’re the first generation of parents trying to navigate it. Our kids will make mistakes and so will we, but let’s try to work together on this and forgive each other when we mess up.
Post Office digital drop-in sessions
As I mentioned earlier, Post Office Broadband have teamed up with the experts at Google to host digital skills workshops across the UK. These will include topics such as “Device Advice”, “Getting Started Online”, and “Staying Safe Online”, as well as 1:1 guidance.
The workshops are free and open to anyone who would like to up-skill and boost their digital confidence (not just parents) so have a think if there is anyone you know who could benefit from attending.
The first six dates in 2018 have been announced and you can register for a free ticket by visiting: https://www.postofficedigitaldrop-ins.co.uk/#upcoming-events
- Leeds – Fri 22nd June, 10-1
- Southampton – Fri 6th July, 10-1
- Plymouth – Fri 20th July, 10-1
- Cardiff – Fri 3rd August, time TBC
- Norwich – Fri 17th August, 10-1
- Belfast – Fri 31st August, time TBC
But don’t worry if you can’t attend any of these. Simply click the link mentioned above, scroll to the bottom of the page, and fill in the form to register your interest in later events.
What are your biggest concerns about raising children in the digital age? Are you confident in your digital knowledge or are their areas that you would like to up-skill? Do you know anyone who would find these workshops useful? Let me know in the comments section below.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Post Office Broadband. All opinions are my own. For more info, please check out my disclosure policy.
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